Picayune and Gulfport battled Friday, Sept. 13 in the Sanderson Farms Mississippi High School Game of the Month,
By David Folse, contributing writer
It's been six seasons since the Picayune High Maroon Tide have hoisted a state championship trophy at the end of the season.
Now, entering his 24th and final season at the helm of one of Mississippi's most successful high school football programs, Dodd Lee has his squad off to a 3-0 start in 2019 after a 54-47 victory at Gulfport on Friday night in the New Orleans Saints/Sanderson Farms Mississippi High School Game of the Month.
Lee announced the 2019 season would be his last at the helm prior to the start of the season. Having led Picayune to a pair of state championships in nearly a quarter-century at the helm, he has amassed a 212-70 record at Picayune. In his 39 years of coaching, he currently stands 254-102.
Last season Lee's squad fell a game short of playing for the state of Mississippi's top prize, falling to West Jones 21-13.
Friday night, tied 47-47 with 10:25 to go after Gulfport erased a 41-28 deficit, Picayune senior tailback Cameron Thomas burst through the line of scrimmage for a 62-yard touchdown, his third of the game, to give the Maroon Tide a 54-47 advantage.
"This entire team, especially the seniors, want to go out with a big bang for our coach," Thomas said. "He has been with us for our entire careers and we cherish that. Coach Lee means a lot to so many people in this program and this community. So, we want to make this last year for him something special. We are now 3-0, so I think we are on our way."
Thomas more than did his part, rushing for 345 yards and finding the end zone three times.
"We fought very hard for this game and this win," Thomas said. "All the credit goes to the big guys up front on the offense line. They opened up the holes and the defense made the stops that they had to for us to get the victory.
"We didn't expect a shootout like we had in this game tonight. I just tried to do my part."
On a beautiful night at Joseph W. Milner Stadium at Lindy Callahan Field on the Gulfport High campus, both squads scored on their first two possessions as Tyran Gable got the scoring going for the Admirals with a four-yard touchdown run. Picayune answered on its ensuing possession when Kade Turnage scored form 13 yards to tie the score 7-7.
Gulfport quarterback Cade Crosby gave the Admirals their last lead of the game late in first quarter when he found Deshun Shields for a five-yard scoring strike.
The Maroon Tide again answered, this time with a two-yard quarterback sneak by Jakail Myers.
Picayune's defense proved to produce the turning point of the first half when Jalen Hall intercepted Crosby with an impressive one-handed grab. Six plays later Leonard Taylor scored from 15 yards out to give Picayune a 27-14 advantage. Myers had another short scoring burst, but Crosby added two more passing touchdowns for the Admirals as Picayune took a 34-28 lead into the halftime locker-room.
The win for the Maroon Tide avenges a 37-35 homecoming loss a season ago against the Admirals, who fell to 2-2.
"Onto the next one," Thomas said.